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An article in The News on Oct. 7, "Violent crime remains high in Buffalo," compared Buffalo's violent crime rates with 19 other mid-sized cities.

Crime rate is defined by the FBI's National Crime Reports as the number of reported crimes per 100,000 people.

The obvious reason to turn the raw numbers of crime commission into a crime rate is to take into consideration population size when making a comparison of crime rates of cities throughout the country.

There are many different types of crime other than the index offenses (the so-called street crimes) on which the FBI statistics are based.

Also, roughly 50 percent of index offenses are not reported and, therefore, not included in the official count.

The FBI statistics do not include information on important correlates of crime, such asurbanization, poverty, unemployment, family breakdown and changes in social ethos, gun-control laws, law-enforcement policies or age distribution of the population.

Explaining the causes of crime is not an easy task. What criminologists do know is that no one set of factors explains completely the incomplete picture of crime in this country.

Due to the nature of research with human subjects and their activities, almost all studies of crime unavoidably suffer from concerns over lack of a control group, validity of findings and the generalizations of the conclusions.

Unfortunately, choosing 20 mid-sized cities to judge Buffalo may produce in the readers' minds an incorrect inferenceregarding where Buffalo stands in our country's crime picture, particularly since many important factors mentioned above were not considered.

John Song Charles Reasons Criminal Justice Department
Buffalo State College

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